Mired in years of scandal over claims of sexual harassment, famed New York City restaurant the Spotted Pig has closed.
The restaurant's last meal was Sunday, according to Spotted Pig employees' social media posts. The closing came less than three weeks after the restaurant's principal owner, Ken Friedman, settled with 11 employees who accused him of sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination.
"An investigation conducted by the Attorney General's office found that the restaurant maintained a hostile workplace where numerous female employees were subjected to severe and pervasive incidents of unwanted touching and unwelcomed sexual advances by Friedman," New York Attorney General Letitia James wrote in a January 7 statement.
The investigation also concluded that female employees were subjected to sexual harassment from the Spotted Pig's guests, including Mario Batali, the celebrity chef who had invested in and frequently visited the restaurant.
60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper reported on the sexual harassment claims in May 2018. He spoke with restaurant workers who said they had been sexually harassed and assaulted at the West Village eatery by both Friedman and Batali.
"I think Mario Batali's a monster," former Spotted Pig waitress Trish Nelson told Cooper in 2018. "He has been lauded as this incredible chef and this leader. But behind the scenes he's hurtful and he does not respect women."
Dozens of employees Cooper spoke with said the restaurant's culture was one that lacked boundaries, and it created a workplace where Friedman and Batali did whatever they wanted, including sexually assaulting employees. Many of the women said they feared being fired if they complained and that Friedman had a history of blackballing former employees within the industry.
Spotted Pig co-owners Friedman and chef April Bloomfield, who had owned seven restaurants together and employed hundreds of people, didn't have a full-time human resources department until 2017. The attorney general's investigation found that Bloomfield did not try to stop the harassment.
In a statement to the Times, Friedman said he had tried to keep the restaurant open: "For over two years I have done everything possible to keep the Spotted Pig open. I've been working to try to raise funds or sell my shares, in order to save the business, to continue to support our great employees — many of whom have been with us for over a decade — so they could keep their jobs and health benefits."
Batali, who at one point had owned 26 eateries, left his restaurant empire and sold his shares in Eataly last year.